First time on this trail. We did a brief hike near Ratcliff lake, followed by a day hike through the Big Slough wilderness in the upper central portion of the trail. f you can go on only one portion of the entire trail, do the Big Slough portion. We entered via a forest road going north from the burg of Ratcliff, at the southern end of the Big Slough. There is an established parking lot, but the east-west road marked on the map is actually an unmarked track with a locked gate. Walk east past the gate a couple hundred yards and find the 4-C crossing it. This is a nicely maintained trail that appears to receive light traffic. It has been a very wet spring, so everything was nice and green, but strongly recommend hiking boots for the periodic boggy stream crossings. Several long boardwalk sections keep you off the wettest areas.
Beautiful forest hike improved with early dogwood and redbud blossoms, occasional wildflowers. Minimal wildlife viewing, with lots of bird singing activity but saw few close enough to identify them.
The loop trails in the Big Slough may be there, but are essentially unidentifiable and clearly not well maintained. Enter at your own risk if you can find them.
Neches overlook is not exactly an overlook but a wooded hilltop with minimal views of the river, unless we missed an open spot somewhere.
Note of caution: Most of the roads identified on the map in this chapter are excellently maintained, but particularly in the southen portion, many are no longer named as forest roads, but as county roads with different numbers. Road signs, when present, are small and easy to miss. Strongly recommend stopping to pick up a one page map at the Ratcliff lake park entrance, or at the large ranger station just east of there in Ratcliff. This map is also pretty pathetic, but is a little more accurately labeled with road numbers.